by: Sydney Mckneelen
Leave the presence of a fool,
for there you do not meet words of knowledge.
Goodbyes are never easy, and walking away from situations or relationships that are harmful to our walk with Jesus are no exception. While we all desire for everyone to know and embrace the truth of Christ found in scripture, there are inevitably times where we must have some space and healthy boundaries from others who have yet to accept that truth.
In the culture of scripture, hospitality was a very big deal. Part of the dynamics of this hospitality was the idea of “coming into the presence” of someone. Allowed into the innermost parts of their home, or into the courts of a king, you weren’t just a visitor, you took on the reputation (good or bad) of your host.
There are some understandable reasons why the religious leaders would have a hard time understanding Jesus going into the homes of people who had bad reputations. To do so, in their eyes, was to become one in practice and reputation with them. Jesus, on the other hand, viewed it in the opposite way, that his presence could would bring about a change for the better in the lives of those he interacted with. But Jesus didn’t view wisdom in the same way that they did, and how we sometimes view wisdom ourselves today. Jesus saw the wise as those who would listen to his teachings, the fools as those who would reject what he had to say.
This was on clear display when Jesus accepted an invitation to dine at the house of some Pharisees. He was reclining at the table, when a woman, a known sinner, came and anointed Jesus feet, washing them with her tears and her hair. He was allowing her into his very near presence, something that seemed to indicate that Jesus approved of her sinful behavior. Jesus taught otherwise,
“A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” (Luke 7:41-49)
The wise person in this case, is the person who sets aside all social convention, self-reputation, all else, to approach Jesus and accept his wisdom and grace. The foolish behavior of the Pharisees is to question how appropriate her behavior was, and Jesus allowing it, when they hadn’t even bothered to offer Jesus some of the hospitality they would have offered a respected guest in their culture. Jesus didn’t stay to listen to their wisdom, to hear their justifications or their self-righteous excuses.
What’s more the next section of Luke’s gospel tells us how there were many women who followed Jesus… even helped provide for him. Gasp! Quite the provocative stance for that time. But they understood that Jesus was wise, and choose to stick with him, while the foolish choose to believe they already knew better. As our proverb tells us today in such company, “you do not meet words of knowledge” and we too should be intentional in who we allow ourselves to be taught by. Christ is and always should be our source of wisdom.
Prayer For Today
Father, watch over me today and provide me with all my needs. Help me to have a forgiving and open heart, to those who would seek forgiveness and peace, both from me and from you. Jesus, give me the wisdom to always be near to you, to be taught and loved by you, to not be enticed away by the foolish offers of the world. By your Holy Spirit guide me today into the paths of wisdom and righteousness, so that I can be in your company today, and forevermore. Amen.